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OPINION: Just a'pickin', a'grinnin, and a'hummin

July 14th, 2017 | Tommy Wells, Editor Print this article   Email this article  

I'm going to let you in on a little secret ... I admire people who can play musical instruments. It doesn't really matter what instrument it is ... the guitar, the drums or even the spoons. I find it amazing that someone can do that. Probably the reason I admire them is because I have trouble tuning the radio in the car.

A few years ago my youngest son decided he was going to teach himself (with help from YouTube) to play the guitar. And, if I must say so, he has become pretty darn good at it. He can probably rattle of 40 to 50 songs by now. I'm not saying he sings like George Strait or just any George, for that matter ... well, except for George of the Jungle. But he can play pretty well.

Really, someday when you are bored come down to the LOG office and have him strum through a few chords. If it is Halloween, I'll sing and we'll scare the bejesus out of them.

Inspired by the fact that I should be able to do anything my youngest son can do, I decided to learn to play the guitar, too.

So, I did what I had to do. I went down to the mall (without telling She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Made-Mad) and purchased a guitar, a strap and two dozen of the coolest guitar picks man ever saw. Then I called Bobby and told him that I was going to learn to play.

"That's cool, dad," he said. "When are you going to start?"

"I've already started," I told him.

"Awesome! I'll come by and check it out," he said.

About a week later, Bobby walked in and asked to see the new guitar. As fate would have it, I was sitting on the couch with the instrument, practicing the correct places to put my fingers on the fret board when he came in.

"That's a nice guitar," he said after he hugged his mother, who was sitting beside me reading the latest volume of 'How to Spend a Billion Dollars at Wal-Mart.' "But it would be better if you put the strings on it. How have you been playing without any strings on it?"

"I had the strings on there earlier," I said "But they kind of had a problem so I had to take them off."

My son shook his head knowingly, and told me not to worry about having a string break while I was learning to play. It is fairly common, he assured me, for new players to break strings, especially the smaller one at the bottom.

"It can also hurt when they snap," he said.

"Oh I didn't have a string snap," I said.

"Really? Then why are there no strings on the guitar?"

"Well, I had them on there for a few days but I found that the end of my fingers got so sore from having to push them down that I almost called the undertaker to come in and put me out of my misery. I think my finger tips are going to have massive open wounds."

He shook his head again, admitting that his fingers hurt like the dickens when he first started. Just keep practicing and eventually, I'd build up calluses on the end of my fingers.

I told him that I knew it would take time and practice to get better, and that I was already to the stage where I could perform in front of others.

"Dad, you've only been playing for a week, and on only three of those days did you have strings. How can you already be playing in front of people?"

"Tommy ..." SWMNBMM said with a roll of her eyes.

"What happened, mom?" Bobby asked.

"Tell him what happened, Tommy!" SWMNBMM ordered.

"Well, the other day one one of those encyclopedia salesmen came by and wanted to borrow talk to me about books. When we got to the G book, I told him about my new guitar. He said he wanted to hear me play, so I kind of gave him an impromptu concert. I even sang the words. I'm telling you, he was so impressed he was running around bouncing off the walls, just like those groupies you see in the music videos. "

"The funniest thing, though, is I think he really wanted to get out of the encyclopedia sales business," I said.

"Why would you say that?" he asked.

"The whole time I was playing and singing he kept screaming, my grain! My grain!"

"No!" SWMNBMM corrected. "He was yelling, 'migraine.'"

"And, because of your father and that guitar, we now have to mail all of his encyclopedias back to the company that owns them," she said.

"That is the real reason he doesn't have any strings," she smiled.

It is true. I must fess up. SWMNBMM has "limited" my guitar-playing sessions to days that she or anyone else is not within telephoning distance, or to any time I am out of the country.

To guarantee that I would not be assaulting the peace she took the strings off my instrument and placed them in a time out. To make sure I wouldn't cheat, she even threatened to adopt another child if I so must as even look at them.

I can assure you, I haven't come within 25 feet of those strings in several weeks.

In the mean time, Bobby can play the guitar pretty well. As for me, I can hum "Bad Moon Rising" like a pro.

On the bright side, we don't have any more kids ... and we haven't had a door-to-door salesman in a loooong time.

Tommy Wells is the editor of the Homer Tribune. Everything in this column is true, except for the parts that have been fabricated, exaggerated or just plain lies.


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